I believe George Carlin said it best:
Here is my problem with the ten commandments- why exactly are there 10?
You simply do not need ten. The list of ten commandments was artificially and deliberately inflated to get it up to ten. Here’s what happened:
About 5,000 years ago a bunch of religious and political hustlers got together to try to figure out how to control people and keep them in line. They knew people were basically stupid and would believe anything they were told, so they announced that God had given them some commandments, up on a mountain, when no one was around.
Well let me ask you this- when they were making this shit up, why did they pick 10? Why not 9 or 11? I’ll tell you why- because 10 sound official. Ten sounds important! Ten is the basis for the decimal system, it’s a decade, it’s a psychologically satisfying number (the top ten, the ten most wanted, the ten best dressed). So having ten commandments was really a marketing decision! It is clearly a bullshit list. It’s a political document artificially inflated to sell better. I will now show you how you can reduce the number of commandments and come up with a list that’s a little more workable and logical. I am going to use the Roman Catholic version because those were the ones I was taught as a little boy.
Let’s start with the first three:
I AM THE LORD THY GOD THOU SHALT NOT HAVE STRANGE GODS BEFORE ME
THOU SHALT NOT TAKE THE NAME OF THE LORD THY GOD IN VAIN
THOU SHALT KEEP HOLY THE SABBATH
Right off the bat the first three are pure bullshit. Sabbath day? Lord’s name? strange gods? Spooky language! Designed to scare and control primitive people. In no way does superstitious nonsense like this apply to the lives of intelligent civilized humans in the 21st century. So now we’re down to 7. Next:
HONOR THY FATHER AND MOTHER
Obedience, respect for authority. Just another name for controlling people. The truth is that obedience and respect shouldn’t be automatic. They should be earned and based on the parent’s performance. Some parents deserve respect, but most of them don’t, period. You’re down to six.
Now in the interest of logic, something religion is very uncomfortable with, we’re going to jump around the list a little bit.
THOU SHALT NOT STEAL
THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS
Stealing and lying. Well actually, these two both prohibit the same kind of behavior- dishonesty. So you don’t really need two you combine them and call the commandment “thou shalt not be dishonest”. And suddenly you’re down to 5.
And as long as we’re combining I have two others that belong together:
THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTRY
THOU SHALT NOT COVET THY NEIGHBOR’S WIFE
Once again, these two prohibit the same type of behavior. In this case it is marital infidelity. The difference is- coveting takes place in the mind. But I don’t think you should outlaw fantasizing about someone else’s wife because what is a guy gonna think about when he’s waxing his carrot? But, marital infidelity is a good idea so we’re gonna keep this one and call it “thou shalt not be unfaithful”. And suddenly we’re down to four.
But when you think about it, honesty and infidelity are really part of the same overall value so, in truth, you could combine the two honesty commandments with the two fidelity commandments and give them simpler language, positive language instead of negative language and call the whole thing “thou shalt always be honest and faithful” and we’re down to 3.
THOU SHALT NOT COVET THY NEIGHBOR”S GOODS
This one is just plain fuckin’ stupid. Coveting your neighbor’s goods is what keeps the economy going! Your neighbor gets a vibrator that plays “o come o ye faithful”, and you want one too! Coveting creates jobs, so leave it alone. You throw out coveting and you’re down to 2 now- the big honesty and fidelity commandment and the one we haven’t talked about yet:
THOU SHALT NOT KILL
Murder. But when you think about it, religion has never really had a big problem with murder. More people have been killed in the name of god than for any other reason. All you have to do is look at Northern Ireland, Cashmire, the Inquisition, the Crusades, and the World Trade Center to see how seriously the religious folks take thou shalt not kill. The more devout they are, the more they see murder as being negotiable. It depends on who’s doin the killin’ and who’s gettin’ killed. So, with all of this in mind, I give you my revised list of the two commandments:
Thou shalt always be honest and faithful to the provider of thy nookie.
Thou shalt try real hard not to kill anyone, unless of course they pray to a different invisible man than you.
Two is all you need; Moses could have carried them down the hill in his fuckin’ pocket. I wouldn’t mind those folks in Alabama posting them on the courthouse wall, as long as they provided one additional commandment:
Thou shalt keep thy religion to thyself.